In collaboration with the Consulate of Mexico in Calexico, the Imperial Irrigation District has developed a bilingual public outreach campaign focused on the dangers of the All-American Canal.
In a press conference that brought together state and federal officials, a partnership between the IID, the Consulate of Mexico in Calexico, the U.S. Border Patrol, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation was announced to enhance safety measures along the All-American Canal.
In December, the IID added buoy lines in strategic locations at each of the five hydroelectric drops along the All-American Canal as recommended by the Border Patrol and funded by the Bureau of Reclamation.
The bilingual campaign has the message: “Stay Alive. Stay Away. Canals are dangerous.”
“This is a message that will reach thousands who may not know the dangers of the All-American canal. This is a campaign that will not be focused on Imperial Valley but also with our neighbors south of the border as well,” IID Director Karin Eugenio said.
In 2010, a 23-mile section of the canal was completed with concrete lining to conserve water and the IID fully funded the installation of 105 buoy lines and ladders along the canal, installing over 1,300 warnings in both English and Spanish along the canal banks. The lining makes the actual canal sides very steep in this section and difficult to exit against the strong water current.
One of the largest canals in the Imperial Valley, the All-American Canal is one of the most dangerous bodies of water in the United States. Since the construction of the All-American Canal, over 600 lives have been lost, according to the Imperial County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office.
“We ask our friends in the media to help us spread this message so people know about the dangers of the canals,” said Consul Tarcisio Navarrete.
The water looks much calmer on the surface than it is. The rapid undercurrents of the All-American Canal can move a person at a speed of up to eight feet per second. This current of water is so strong that even an Olympic swimmer can’t navigate.
In addition, the All-American Canal includes six hydroelectric power generating stations that contain 49-foot water drops, which are extremely dangerous.
Unfortunately, every year the Consulate of Mexico in Calexico receives more reports of deaths of migrants attempting to cross illegally into the United States through the All-American Canal. The border patrol of the El Centro Sector, as well as the Consulate of Mexico and IID, asks migrants not to cross.